industry news

US Army issues proposals for second phase of next-generation UAS project

9 July

The US Army has issued a request for a conceptual design and technology assessment proposal of a next-generation unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The proposals are for the second phase of a project known as the Next Generation Unmanned Aircraft System Technology Demonstration (NexGen UAS TD).

Led by the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Aviation Development Directorate, the NexGen UAS TD is aimed at the development of the acquisition programme to replace legacy UAS.

The army’s next-generation UAS fleet is anticipated to be in operation from 2030. Through the NexGen UAS TD, the army intends to identify and demonstrate air vehicle technologies that meet certain requirements in terms of technology, performance, survivability, and reliability.

Under Phase II, the Aviation Development Directorate will carry out an assessment to develop conceptual designs that meet the air vehicle requirements generated from the Phase I concept study results. Additionally, concepts submitted by the participants will be evaluated to determine critical enabling technologies for development and demonstration in the subsequent phase.

Phase III of the NexGen UAS TD will involve a flight demonstration and/or demonstration of capability-enabling air vehicle technologies. It may also include the development and testing of prototypes for the engineering and manufacturing development phase. While initial test/demonstration activities of air vehicle technologies are slated for 2020-2023, the final test/demonstration is anticipated to take place in 2023.

Singapore Air Force’s SPYDER air defence system becomes operational

9 July

The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Surface-to-Air Python-5 and Derby (SPYDER) ground-based air defence system has attained full operational capability status. The achievement significantly enhances the Singapore Armed Forces’ next-generation capabilities.

During a ceremony held at the Chong Pang Camp military base, Singapore Senior Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman said: “The SPYDER is an improvement from the Rapier system as it is able to intercept not just aircraft but also munitions, therefore widening the spectrum of threats that our air defences can tackle.

“An all-weather system equipped with advanced infra-red and radar-guided missiles, the SPYDER can intercept aerial threats at more than twice the range and three times the altitude of the Rapier, while engaging multiple targets at the same time.”

SPYDER is part of the enhanced Island Air Defence System, a networked system that combines sensors, weapon systems, command and control elements, and decision-making tools to improve the country’s air defence.

The all-weather air defence system features anti-aircraft and anti-munition capabilities to handle a wide range of aerial threats. It requires only a four-man crew to deploy the system.

Personnel using the SPYDER system have undergone extensive training in operating and maintaining the system, while also validating its capabilities in local and overseas exercises.

British Royal Marines complete Exercise Green Dragon in Dartmoor

6 July

The British Royal Marines have carried out this year’s Exercise Green Dragon at Dartmoor in southern Devon, England, in order to test all of the logistics regiment’s components.

Green Dragon is a validation exercise designed to determine whether a logistics task group is capable and ready to be deployed with the lead commando group, anywhere in the world and under any environmental condition. Exercise Green Dragon involved the Commando Logistics Regiment (CLR), which deployed its varied units to test their ability to support the front line during the two-week exercise.

The event saw the Barnstaple-based unit provide the support the Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade require to operate in the field. The unit delivered food, medical cover, fuel, vehicle repair and recovery, ammunition and other supplies to the marines during the exercise.

Exercise Green Dragon is usually conducted on Salisbury Plain in England every year, however this year’s iteration was relocated to Dartmoor to allow the Royal Marines to train in the challenging moorland conditions.

The event involved the movement of a convoy of 100 vehicles as well as setting up bases. The vehicles carried nearly 300 specialists, who were assessed in their different areas of expertise in vehicle repair, engineering, emergency medical treatment and communications, in addition to the distribution of stores and equipment.

Exercise Green Dragon serves as the perfect platform to demonstrate the new methods of camouflage and defence used by the warfighters. The Royal Marines previously participated in the exercise in July last year, which was conducted across Salisbury Plain in order to test the infantry’s battlefield logistics capabilities.

MEPs approve €500m funding to develop military systems

5 July

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have for the first time approved a proposal to establish the new European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) to fund the joint development of military systems.

Under the EDIDP, a €500m fund is expected to be allocated from the European Union (EU) budget for 2019-20 to help co-finance the joint development of new and upgraded products and technologies. This will help make the EU more independent, make budget spending more efficient and support the development of new defence technologies.

Les Républicains vice-chair and rapporteur Françoise Grossetête said: “This programme is an historic step forward for European defence industrial projects and responds to three challenges: budgetary efficiency, competitiveness, and strategic autonomy. We have achieved in one year of negotiations a promising regulation to improve the innovation capacity of the EU.”

The current EDIDP can serve as the pilot of the next European Defence Fund in the EU’s 2021-27 budget. With a proposed budget of €13bn, the fund would be used to make the EU more independent in the area of defence through cooperation, while supporting the more efficient use of taxpayer money.

The EU will co-fund projects that will be carried out by a consortium of at least three companies established in at least three different EU member states.

The programme will fund the development phase of both new and upgraded military systems products, in addition to the different phases of technology development in the EU such as studies, design, testing, certification, and build.

Development in a wide range of areas will be supported, including remotely piloted systems, satellite communications, cyber and maritime security, high-end military air, land and sea capabilities, as well as joint domain systems.

US Air Force tests new expeditionary medical systems equipment

5 July

The US Air Force (USAF) Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) and the Air Combat Command Surgeon General Office have carried out tests on new collective protection tent and joint expeditionary medical systems.

During the event, US airmen compared existing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRNE) defence capabilities equipment to new expeditionary medical systems (EMEDS) equipment. Tests were conducted at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, US.

The exercise has been primarily designed to focus on employing a new EMEDS tent liner that incorporates an airlock system, creating an over-pressurised environment that is protected from CBRNE agents outside of a contained area.

AFLCMC programme manager for CBRNE protective systems Major Ben Schumacher said: “Anyone who has been out there doing an exercise on a hot day in the summer, or even a cold day in the winter, knows how terrible it can be after wearing chemical protective equipment for even a short period of time.

“There is also an increased risk of exposing or contaminating others, including patients, due to fatigue or stress of trying to operate while wearing chemical protective equipment.”

The toxic-free environment will allow medical personnel to treat patients comfortably and efficiently in a clean environment without the need to wear full mission-oriented protective suits. Tent liners will also allow medical personnel to work for extended periods of time without the need to swap their chemically protective attire.

Schumacher added: “With the training and equipment exhibited during this exercise, we can be ready to protect the medical mission during an attack, and this can directly result in saving lives.”

A group of airmen from the USAF’s 633rd Medical Support Squadron has already undergone training to learn about the new components and understand the parts that can be used interchangeably with the Tent Kit 2 units and the Stand Alone Large units.

Australia to invest A$495m in Larrakeyah Defence Precinct projects

3 July

The Australian Department of Defence has approved a A$495m investment for the establishment of two new facilities at the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct in the Northern Territory. Australia’s Larrakeyah Defence Precinct is located approximately 2km west of the Darwin Central Business District and comprises the Larrakeyah Barracks and HMAS Coonawarra.

The first project will see the Australian Government invest a total of A$272m in new facilities in order to support naval operations within the north of the country. The scope of the project involves the development of a new outer wharf, which will be used to support the Royal Australian Navy’s major surface combatant vessels and submarines.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said: “The project will enhance the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) capacity to conduct operations and exercises in the north of Australia, while providing fuel storage and refuelling capabilities to meet current and projected demands.”

Additionally, a further A$223m will be invested for the redevelopment of the Larrakeyah base, including the upgrade and overhaul of critical in-ground infrastructure.

The works are intended to help support on-base growth over the next 25 years, while providing an improved working environment for the country’s defence personnel.

Payne added: “This investment in defence facilities will enhance support to ADF operations and maximise opportunities for local industry.”

UK-based construction company Laing O’Rourke has been selected as the managing contractor for both of the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct projects.

Construction works on the developments are slated to begin later this year and will be completed by mid-2023.

A Local Industry Capability Plan has been developed to optimise opportunities for small-to-medium local businesses in the Northern Territory, allowing them to compete for and win sub-contracts related to the two projects.

Bell Boeing wins $4.19bn contract for CMV-22B Osprey production work

3 July

Bell Boeing has secured a $4.19bn contract modification for the production and delivery of CMV-22B Osprey aircraft, a variant of the MV-22B unit. The fixed-price-incentive-fee multi-year deal was awarded to the Bell Boeing Joint Program Office in Amarillo, Texas, and represents a modification to the previously awarded V-22 tiltrotor aircraft advance acquisition contract.

Bell V-22 programme vice president Chris Gehler said: “Bell Boeing is pleased to extend production of the V-22, supporting our warfighters with one of the most versatile and in-demand platforms in the US arsenal. This multi-year production contract provides programme production stability through at least 2024.”

The company will supply a total of 58 multi-mission, tilt-rotor military aircraft under the deal. A total of 39 CMV-22B jets are to be delivered to the US Navy as part of the arrangement, while 14 MV-22Bs will be supplied to the US Marine Corps.

In addition, the company is set to manufacture another CV-22B aircraft for the US Air Force and a further four MV-22B units for the Government of Japan. The US Navy is expected to use the new CMV-22B tiltrotor aircraft to transport personnel and cargo from the shore to aircraft carriers.

Kristin Houston, vice president for Boeing tiltrotor programmes V-22 programme director, said: “By combining aircraft for three services and a key US ally into one multi-year order, the US Navy gets more capability for its procurement dollar. It also enables the US Navy to begin advancing its carrier on-board delivery fleet with modern tilt-rotor aircraft.”

The CMV-22B aircraft is eventually slated to replace the C-2 Greyhound high-wing cargo aircraft, which has been in service with the navy since the mid-1960s.

MyDefence launches new wearable PITBULL counter UAS system

2 July

Danish company MyDefence has launched the next-generation wearable counter unmanned aircraft system (UAS) solution that uses smart jamming techniques to defeat enemy drones. Dubbed PITBULL, the counter UAS system has been designed to have minimal impact on other signals while jamming to maintain own communication.

Weighing only 775g, the PITBULL lightweight tactical solution can be easily worn on the uniform and helps minimise the cognitive load of dismounted soldiers, enabling them to focus on the mission.

MyDefence chief executive officer Christian Steinø said: “This is a big leap in the technological advancement of active countermeasures against malicious drones.

“There exists an immediate demand in the counter UAS market for wearable solutions for dismounted soldiers that does not interfere with their function in a unit. We are therefore proud to introduce the PITBULL wearable smart jammer that allow dismounted soldiers to defeat enemy drones while maintaining own communication.”

Featuring both automated and manual jamming modes, the counter UAS solution has a jamming range of 1,000m. PITBULL can be used together with MyDefence’s new WINGMAN 103 wearable drone detection system to offer the entire solution of detecting and defeating enemy drones. The smart jammer enables the dismounted soldiers to operate in hostile environments, where enemy forces use commercially available drones for reconnaissance and as weapon delivery systems.

Steinø added: “The PITBULL drone jammer will, based on the detection signals from the WINGMAN, automatically start jamming the control signals of the detected drones.

“PITBULL requires no training, simply turn on the devices and you are protected against detected drones, making it ideal for dismounted soldiers, who can instead focus on their mission.”